A parent’s number one priority is often their children’s safety. This is especially true when they get behind the wheel, with their children in the back seat.
Car accidents are still one of the leading causes of serious injury and death for children under 12-years-old in the United States. However, when parents use car seats correctly, they can reduce their child’s chance of injury by at least 71%.
So, what should new parents or parents with young children know to ensure their child’s safety?
What does Maryland’s law say about car seats?
Children in Maryland must be restrained in a child safety seat if they are:
- Under eight-years-old; or
- Under 4 feet and 9 inches tall.
This is required by law (Maryland Code, Transportation §22-412.2). However, it is important to note that parents must:
- Carefully read the car seat’s height and weight limitations; and
- Monitor their child’s growth and how well the car seat fits them.
When determining what type of car seat or booster seat children need, it is often safer to go by a child’s height and weight, rather than their age.
Installing the car seat correctly is critical
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that in 59% of the cases where children were injured in a car crash, the car seat was not installed properly.
Improper installation of car seats is one of the most common mistakes – and yet it is also one of the easiest to avoid. It is helpful if parents:
- Carefully review the installation instructions, even before buying a car seat;
- Practice installing the car seat and following the instructions; and
- Consult a child passenger safety technician to check the installation.
- Often times, local fire departments are willing to assist in the installation of car seats.
- In the Baltimore area, look up The Carseat Lady, https://thecarseatlady.com, who can provide additional information and services related to properly fitting a car seat.
Using the proper car seat is the law, but it is also important to safeguard the health and safety of the children every time parents get behind the wheel. Parents do their best to avoid a crash by driving defensively and avoiding distractions, but there will always be reckless drivers on the road.
Taking care to select the right car seat and install it correctly can help ensure a child’s safety, even in the face of this risk.